714 Main Street
Clayton, NM 88415
Within the short grass prairie of the southern Great Plains lie the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands. These grasslands encompass approximately 230,000 acres in six counties within New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. These administrative units are not solid blocks of Government owned land; rather they consist of numerous small Government parcels, intermingled with privately owned tracts.
Prior to settlement, this area was home to many American Indian tribes. The abundance of buffalo and wildlife provides strong testimony to the importance of the grass resource.
With the Homestead Act of 1862, settlers began to pour into the prairie. They were lured by the promise of a better life, and cheap and productive farmland.
The settlers quickly discovered the unpredictability of the prairie life. While the grasslands were productive in wet years, they were also subject to serious drought and harsh winters. The farm price collapse in 1919-20, coupled with severe drought, the depression, and ensuing "dust bowl," pushed many homesteaders to the edge of survival.
In the 1930's and early 1940's, programs were initiated which allowed the Federal Government to purchase and restore damaged lands. These purchased lands were known as Land Utilization Projects, and were administered by the Soil Conservation Service.By 1960, the administration of these Land Utilization Projects was transferred to the Forest Service, and they were then designated as National Grasslands.